The name of “Egg Harbor” is unique, probably not being duplicated anywhere else in America. It dates back to a picnic frolic which took place on its lakeshore exactly 100 years ago (editor’s note: 1925) as this is being written. The Hon. Henry S. Baird of Green Bay told the story of its naming as follows:
In the summer of 1825, Mr. Rolette, a prominent and extensive fur trader, arrived at Green Bay from the Mississippi, with three or four large boats, on his annual voyage to Mackinac, with the returns from his year’s trade. Since there was at that time no vessel at Green Bay, he kindly offered passage on his own boat to Mr. and Mrs. Baird, then “young folks” who resided at Green Bay and were anxious to visit Mackinac. On a fine morning in June, the fleet left the Fox River and proceeded along the east shore of Green Bay, well supplied with good tents, large and copious mess basket, well stored with provisions of all kinds, especially a large quantity of eggs. On the second day at noon, the order was given by the “Commodore” (Mr. Rolette) to go ashore for dinner. The boats were then abreast of Egg Harbor, until then without a name. Onboard the Commodore’s boat, there were besides himself, Mr. and Mrs. Baird, and nine Canadian boatmen, or voyageurs as they were styled. On another of the boats were two young men, clerks in the employ of Mr. Rolette, one of whom was a Mr. Kinzie, and a like number of boatmen. It was the etiquette on those voyages where several boats were in company, that the principal person or owner took the lead. Sometimes, however, a good-natured strife would arise between the several crews, when etiquette was lost sight of in the endeavor to outstrip each other and arrive first at the land. At the entrance to the harbor, the boat in charge of Mr. Kinzie came alongside the Commodore, with the evident intention of running ahead of him. Mr. Rolette ordered it back; but, instead of obeying, the crew of the boat, urged on by Mr. Kinzie, redoubled their efforts to pass the Commodore, and, as a kind of bravado, the clerks held up an old broom. The Commodore and his companions could not brook this. The mess baskets were opened, and brisk discharge, not of balls, but of eggs, was made upon the offenders. The attack was soon returned in kind. It became necessary to protect the only lady onboard from injury, which was accomplished by covering her with a tarpaulin. The battle kept up for some time, but at length the Commodore triumphed, and the refractory boat was obliged to fall back. Whether this was the result of superior skill of the marksmen onboard the Commodore’s boat or the failure of ammunition on the other is not now remembered.
The battle was renewed after landing. The boats and the men presented a rather unusual appearance, and the inconvenience was increased by the fact that some of the missiles used by the belligerent were not of a very agreeable odor. The fun ended in Mr. Kinzie having to wash his outer garments, and while so employed, some mischievous party threw his hat and coat into the lake. All enjoyed the sport, and none more so than the merry and jovial Canadian boatmen. The actors in the frolic long remembered the sham battle at “Egg Harbor,” and it is believed that to this rude frolic may be attributed the origin of the name of this town in Door County (Door County Advocate, April 1862).
(From Old Peninsula Days, by Hjalmar R. Holand, originally published in 1925, re-published in 1990 by Wm Caxton Ltd, 12037 Hwy 42, Ellison Bay, WI, 54210; 920.854.2955.)
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